10 questions to Christopher Weil

10 questions to Christopher Weil

18.01.2018: Christopher Weil is a passionate designer. Since 2013 he has been Head of Exterior Design at MINI, i.e. the man responsible for shaping the exterior of both current and future MINI models

Christopher Weil is a passionate designer. Since 2013 he has been Head of Exterior Design at MINI, i.e. the man responsible for shaping the exterior of both current and future MINI models and the brand’s concept and vision cars.

As a new year gets underway, he answers ten questions about design in general and the MINI design in particular. He explains why good design is something you experience as well as see, and predicts exciting things in store for the MINI brand.

1. Why did you become a car designer?

I’d always dreamt of becoming a car designer, I had a sort of inner urge. For one thing, I’ve enjoyed drawing ever since I can remember – every scrap of clean paper got scribbled all over! And I’m also fascinated by future themes, basically anything and everything that’s new.

Being a car designer not only lets me fulfil my passion for creativity, it gives me a chance to help shape the future. Exterior design has particular appeal for me. That feeling of seeing your “own” car driving on the road is really something special. It’s my absolute dream job.

2. Where do you get your inspiration as a car designer? What spurs you on?

I draw my inspiration from positive future scenarios, Utopias. The future has always been a great place for me, a sort of improved version of now. That’s also what I think our task as designers should be: to make the future a better place. And that includes cars and mobility. As a designer, I’m also inspired and captivated by products where you can see that someone has worked long and hard on the subject matter and really got to grips with whatever the topic is.

The result is often something unique. And that’s exactly what I aspire to achieve with my design work: the product shouldn’t just move the MINI brand forward, it should inspire others too. In other words, the emotion I’ve put into it should also resonate with the user and trigger something inside them.

3. What is the function of exterior design in your view?

Good exterior design is like a promise, showing what the vehicle is capable of – and more besides. Good exterior design reveals the car’s character too. This can be every bit as challenging as it is powerful. For me, good exterior design means creating an emotional tie with the beholder solely by means of the vehicle’s form.

 To achieve this, designers have to enrich the expanse of surfaces with emotional appeal and inject a sense of motion by adding the right lines to suit the character of the vehicle at hand. The product itself has to communicate and strike a chord, without the customer needing to read an explanatory brochure first.

4. Why have you chosen to work at MINI?

MINI is an automotive icon. Everyone, big or small, knows what a MINI looks like and could probably even draw one too. More crucially, however, MINI is much more than just a product. It is a companion through daily life, it symbolises an open-minded outlook on the world, full of optimism for the future. Our customers form a very special bond with their cars.

 Very few other manufacturers can say the same. The task of transporting this unique quality into the future intrigues me. And the brand has enormous untapped potential. The current MINI LIVING and MINI FASHION collaborations, for example, provide an indication of what the future might hold.

5. What makes a MINI so special for you personally?

It’s difficult to put into words. At its essence a MINI is something very special – it’s approachable, nearly human. Rather than the emotions that can be stirred by the workings of a high-tech machine, a MINI is more about the relationship with the driver. MINI conveys some of its driver’s personality, while also having a character of its own.

MINI owners identify with the product to a far greater degree than customers of other brands. MINI is an extraordinary experience, one I enjoy myself – when I get into my MINI and drive off, it simply makes me happy. So you really can call it a close relationship. MINI does all of that. And it’s something we want to take to a whole new level in the future.

6. What is it that makes the MINI design special?

The MINI DNA – in other words, what Sir Alec Issigonis sought to achieve with the classic Mini – has a special formula. It’s about a product whose every detail is well thought out and fulfils a purpose. The surfaces of the brand’s cars have always had a very clean-cut, almost pared down feel. It’s “pure car” – i.e. purity of form (rather than dispensing with non-essentials). This has had the additional effect of creating a strong, iconic design.

The challenge lies in refining such an icon without blurring the identity of MINI in the process. The friendly appearance of its cars is another special MINI trait. For years now, MINI has resisted the temptation to give its design a more aggressive tone – despite all the sporting prowess on offer. There is, after all, no denying the go-kart qualities, as I was able to experience first-hand on an Alpine rally I took part in a while back. There was some strong competition from supercars, yet the MINI still ran rings round everyone. It was a highly impressive display, and tremendous fun too.

7. What would you say are important issues for the future?

For me, digitisation is one of the key issues. MINI is going digital, but I imagine it will do so in a somewhat warmer, more personal and human way than other brands of car. People will continue to come first at MINI, not technology. Our technology will, of course, still be state-of-the-art. And in some areas we will even lead the way, such as with customisation using 3D printing, which will allow MINI customers to design and fit parts themselves. But it won’t be all about the technology, rather the experience will be king.

 Car design is also set to become increasingly connected and its scope will extend far beyond what we see now. Today, we basically still just design the shape of a car, but in future we will be working on far more. A wealth of possibilities are opening up, which makes the whole thing very exciting.

8. So, what role will exterior design have to play in future?

Exterior design will still be important. Even if, at some point in the distant future, MINI is nothing more than a mobile box (to exaggerate things slightly), no matter how ultra-modern and pared down the box looks, it will still transmit the brand’s core values. Design is essentially communication. The emotional bond that is formed with vehicles starts with their exterior, as it’s the first touchpoint of any car.

Nurturing this relationship – indeed, ensuring there is a relationship in the first place – is what we seek to do at Exterior Design. It will still be our job as designers to make a MINI instantly recognisable as a MINI.

9. What will be the identifying features of a MINI in future?

I think that there will continue to be design elements that create identity and therefore make MINI as recognisable as ever. The contrasting roof is without doubt a fundamental MINI characteristic, as is the MINI “face” with its hexagonal radiator grille.

 I see these two elements as the core visual features of MINI, clear identity creators. Everything else is variable and offers scope for further development. But I think there will still be a need for iconic design elements in future.

10. You have overseen the new facelift for the MINI Hatch (3-door and 5-door). Don’t you think it’s a bit subtle, when compared to the previously stated vision for the future of MINI?

Model updates – or Life Cycle Impulses, as they are also known – always involve treading a fine line between innovating and preserving. I’m personally of the opinion that design thrives on this contrast. The modifications and impulses of the current model update can be found in the smaller details, and they are both right for the car and in touch with the times. Features that were soft before have a more contrasting effect on the updated models.

 There is more definition in the MINI logo, for instance, while the wheels and lights have likewise been given a much sharper look. The contrast with the surrounding soft surfaces creates a far more modern appearance. New exterior colours, rear lights with a Union Jack design and the option of customising the side scuttles and trim strips through MINI Yours offer our customers some very intriguing new features, and sees us taking a big step into the future.


Christopher Weil has been Head of Exterior Design at MINI since 2013. This means he has overall responsibility for the entire exterior styling of both current and future MINI models, and concept cars. Weil’s previous work for the BMW Group included designing the exterior of both the BMW 3 Series and the BMW 328 Hommage, which was unveiled in 2011 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este classic car and motorcycle event.


Susanne Herrmann- photos BMW

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/christophe-weil-questions-mini-designer---171767.html

18.01.2018 / MaP

More News

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manchester opens doors to Wilmslow Showroom
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manchester has opened the doors to its new super-luxury facility in Wilmslow, Cheshire, following a relocation from nearby Knutsford.In the spirit of the marque, the two-storey facility features a specially-commissioned sci more >>
SEAT - The thousand day journey of a colour
    Each colour, since the time it is created until it is applied on a vehicle, goes on a journey that lasts three years     84 robots paint the cars and a scanner confirms it has been evenly applied more >>
McLaren Automotive inaugurates new carbon composites technology center
... in Yorkshire in true McLaren styleA key milestone was marked today at the Yorkshire manufacturing centre that from 2019 will start producing carbon fibre tubs for McLaren Automotive, the British creator of luxury sportscars and sup more >>
By 2030, the transport sector will require 138 million fewer cars in Europe and the US
•    Vehicle stock in China expected to increase by almost 50%•    In 2030, more than one in three kilometres driven will be ‘shared’•    40% of the mileage driven could be done in autonomous vehicles in 2030•    Personal mileage could rise by 23% in Europe, 24 more >>
Das Opel-Original-Zubehör für den Crossland X
•    Stylishe Accessoires: Edler und hochwertiger Look innen wie außen•    Sinnvolle Ordnung: FlexOrganizer®-Lösungen für noch mehr Reisekomfort•    Sichere Ladung: Transport von Gepäck, Skiern und Snowboards auf dem Dach•    Saubere Sache: Opel-Ko more >>
Dr Ursula von der Leyen, hands over 126 vehicles to the Kingdom of Jordan
Dr Ursula von der Leyen, Defence Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, handed 126 Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles over to representatives of the Kingdom of Jordan in Amman. This aid is part of the so-called enabling initiative by more >>
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars 2017 - The year of Bespoke
The Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Bespoke department is an extraordinary collective of designers, engineers and craftspeople, who bring the marque’s discerning and influential patrons’ most ambitious and personal visions to reality.The R more >>
MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience: revolution in the cockpit
Taking centre stage in the Mercedes-Benz presence at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES; 9 - 12 January 2018) will be the world premiere of the intuitive and intelligent multimedia system MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience. It will enter series production in 2018 in the new A-Class. more >>
Fresh update for the original: the new MINI Hardtop 2 Door
... the new MINI Hardtop 4 Door, the new MINI Convertible.The British premium automobile manufacturer strengthens the progressive character and appeal of its models in the small car segment with a stylishly refin more >>
BMW technology equips German bobs for the Olympic Games.
The German Bobsleigh and Sled Sports Federation (BSD) athletes have a score to settle at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang (KOR) in February 2018. Four years ago, the successful bob athletes came away without a medal. At the three world championships that foll more >>
Lexus LS 500 Spindle Grille - Hand Molded Precision
Bringing to life the spindle grille design on the all-new Lexus LS would not have been possible without human accuracy of an exceptional craftsman, transforming machined output in a work of art.The pattern on the evolved, iconic spindle grill more >>
Bildung der Michelin Region Europe North mit Sitz in Deutschland
-   Anish K. Taneja wird CEO Michelin Europe North-  Weltweite Neuorganisation der Michelin Gruppe mit dem Ziel der noch stärkeren Ausrichtung auf die KundenbedürfnissePhoto: Anish K. Taneja, seit 1. Januar 2018 CEO M more >>
Seat Ibiza - Three decades of development
    33 years have gone by from the first generation Ibiza to the latest    The design, going from straight lines to a more dynamic silhouette, is one of this icon’s most unique features&nb more >>
Volkswagen on course for the future
Successful product campaign in 2017:     New Polo augments the world of city specialists    Update raises the Golf to a new, technical level    New model campaign in Brazil begins with the more >>
Volkswagen's 2017 successful models Golf, Tiguan and Touran from Wolfsburg
 Again in a class of their own in 2017:     Golf: the brand's most successful model with almost a million deliveries in 2017    Golf hatchback dominates segment in Germany and Europe    Tiguan: more >>
Double clutch transmission in the Mini - faster gearshifts and more fun!
As a brand well known for it’s sporty character, MINI is set to further enhance it’s reputation with the introduction of a new transmission to the range. Extremely fast gear changes, a high degree of shift comfort and optimised efficiency – just some of th more >>
Honda Takes New Approach with Insight Prototype Debuting at NAIAS Detroit
2018 North American International Auto Show    All-new 2019 Honda Insight will offer premium style and high fuel efficiency in a sophisticated and spacious five-passenger sedan    Powered by latest gener more >>
Audi extends trade-in bonus for switching to latest efficiency technologies
Initiative to replace diesel cars that meet emissions standards Euro 1 to 4        Amount of bonus depends on model and drive technology of the new car        Additional support for changing ov more >>
BMW Group Spartanburg plant in the USA prepares for BMW X7 series production
Presentation of the BMW X7 at the end of 2018.Production of the first pre-production models of the new BMW X7 Sports Activity Vehicle has commenced at the BMW Group Spartanburg plant, USA. So the countdown has star more >>
Hartmut Schick to lead Daimler Trucks Asia
    Marc Llistosella to leave by March 31, 2018 of his own accord    Hartmut Schick will take over responsibility for the business in Asia on April 1, 2018 more >>
Volkswagen Technical Development expands battery competence
    Frank Blome to head Battery Cell Center of ExcellenceIn the future, Frank Blome is to head the Battery Cell Center of Excellence of the Volkswagen brand. Blome, previously Chairman of more >>
Michael-Julius Renz becomes head of Audi Sport GmbH
Chairman of the Board of Management at Audi, Rupert Stadler: “Michael Renz will firmly establish Audi Sport as a major player in the global market”        Thanks to predecessor Stephan Winkelmann for restructuring the Audi subsidiary brand        Extended model range for further growth more >>
Audi production: working without backache with the exoskeleton
The device minimizes physical strain and boosts efficiency.        Employees are testing the ergonomic aid at the Audi plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.  Audi is working to eliminate backache at work with the more >>
Jordi Gené: How does it feel to drive the SEAT CUPRA R?
   SEAT driver and ambassador Jordi Gené shares his first impressions at the wheel of the new Leon CUPRA R    Equipped with 310 hp output, this is the brand’s most powerful production model and features outstan more >>
SEAT to Recruit 150 Employees in January 2018
• The positive output forecast in Martorell provides momentum for increasing the workforce• The employees will join the company on 8 JanuarySEAT is going to hire 150 workers for the Martorell factory. The employ more >>
Connect Cultures: The new Audi trainee program
Audi is increasingly attracting international academic talent for its team: The company is now expanding its offer for graduates with the addition of a new, English language trainee program with the title Connect Cultures. Graduates of international un more >>
Volkswagen comes to terms with its past in Brazil
    Volkswagen is the first automotive company to examine its history during Brazilian military regimephoto caption:  Memorial plague for the vistims of the Brazilian Military Regime.     Scientifi more >>
McLaren announces second Bruce McLaren Internship winner
McLaren Automotive, creator of luxury sportscars and supercars, has awarded an international internship to a budding engineering student from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.Following in the footsteps of Bruce McLaren, McLaren’s New Ze more >>
Genesis G80 and G90 Earn 2018 IIHS “Top Safety Pick+” Ratings
This month the Genesis G80 (when equipped with specific headlights) and G90 earned the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s (IIHS) highest rating by being placed in the TOP SAFETY PICK+ category. Both cars earned that rating within the “Large luxury cars” segment. more >>
Marco Schreyl und Julia Kleine präsentieren „zwanzig18 – Die Olympia Show" live bei Eurosport 1 und TLC
Discovery und Eurosport lüften ein weiteres Geheimnis zur großen Berichterstattung des Senders über die Olympischen Winterspiele PyeongChang 2018 Vom 10. bis 25. Februar werden Eurosport 1 und TLC jeden Abend von 20:15 Uhr bi more >>
Audi analyzes desires of young IT experts
Company survey focuses on sought-after young talent        Little interest in traditional career paths        Findings for transformation of Audi into a premium digital car company  more >>
Collezione Automobili Lamborghini celebrates the Urus Super SUV
....with a special edition of co-branded personalized collections Collezione Automobili Lamborghini presents special editions in collaboration with Enzo Bonafè, Hettabretz and Tecknomonster, celebrating the newly launched Lamborghini more >>
SEAT donates vehicles to the Regional Government of Castilla y León
...for Vocational Training centres in automotives •    The Board of Education will distribute 20 cars among public education centres that teach automotives and vehicle maintenance  •    With this more >>
SEAT: Five driving tips for a carefree Christmas Safety Advice
•    On blustery days, use a scraper to deice the windows on the outside and switch on the air conditioning to automatic to defog them on the inside•    If your Christmas tree is bulky, secure it on the roof and ensure it only protrudes 15% of its length from the rear of the vehicle•    Durin more >>
Audi to mark Apollo lunar missions with a special commercial
On December 7, 1972, NASA launched the Apollo program’s final spacecraft bound for the moon. And exactly 45 years later, Audi is commemorating the historic event with “Apollo 45” – a commercial specially created for the occasion. more >>
New up! GTI can now be ordered
    up! GTI1/2 with 85 kW/115 PS of power brings a new dimension of driving fun to the class of small cars    Lowered bodywork for sporty driving properties    Type approval based on the new WLTP fuel consumption measurement procedure for the first time more >>
SEAT - This is how car parts are put to the challenge
    Wheels, shock absorbers, seats and doors undergo extreme testing before a car is released on the market    The purpose of these tests is to verify the durability of every part, the safety of the car and that the body is leak proof    Testing on prototypes can predict the wear and tear of materials more >>
Porsche extends contracts of Andreas Haffner and Detlev von Platen
Supervisory Board appreciates achievementsRemaining in office: The Supervisory Board of Porsche AG has reappointed both the Member of the Executive Board for Sales and Marketing, Detlev von Platen, and the Member of the Executive Board for Human Resources more >>
BMW's ReachNow car-sharing in China
BMW Group, in partnership with EVCARD, launches ReachNow car-sharing service in ChinaToday, the BMW Group, in partnership with EVCARD, a Shanghai-based electric car-sharing company under Global Car-Sharing & Rental Co. Ltd., la more >>
2001-2023 copyright automobilsport.com